Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease, much more common than asthma and hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans have untreated cavities.
Untreated cavities are a common reason for absenteeism and lost productivity and, as anyone who has had one knows, can be extremely painful.
Mercy Hospital Ardmore and the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry located at Southern Oklahoma Technology Center have come together to educate new mothers about oral health. Dental hygiene students from OU’s distance-learning site at SOTC visit the hospital weekly to provide oral health kits to new mothers and educate them about their newborns’ dental needs. The kits, made possible by a grant from Delta Dental of Oklahoma, include infant and adult toothbrushes, and educational materials such as oral health guides.
“Researchers have linked poor oral health to a variety of health problems, including heart disease and preterm labor,” said Lindsey Hays, OU/SOTC dental hygiene instructor. “Educating these new mothers on how to take care of their babies’ teeth and gums will pay off in healthier children and adults. Dental hygienists are the perfect group to teach the importance of oral health.”
Kits already have been given to approximately 1,000 new mothers at Mercy Hospital Ardmore.